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Vitamin B12 Under The Microscope

As part of our Dietary Supplements Under the Microscope feature, we wanted to take a closer look at vitamin B12 to examine the pros, cons and potential dangers. Vitamin B12 is a term referring to various subtypes of B12 nutrients. B12 plays many roles to play in keeping the body healthy such as aiding in proper brain function, DNA synthesis and development of nerves and blood cells. Some people are Vitamin B12 deficient. These people may have trouble metabolizing the naturally occurring form and may require vitamin B12 shots or dietary supplements. While it is important to have adequate Vitamin B levels, too much of the vitamin can be very dangerous, especially for people with certain pre-existing health conditions or those taking certain medications.

Medical Uses of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 has illustrated such medicinal benefits as:

  • Treating and preventing pernicious anemia
  • Helping some forms of chronic fatigue
  • Helping cognitive function in those with such conditions as amnesia or Alzheimer’s.
  • Working to help facilitate fertility
  • Strengthening the immune system in those with immunocompromising conditions such as AIDS
  • Helping control certain skin conditions such as psoriasis
  • Aiding symptoms of depression

Forms of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 in its natural form is found in such foods as dairy products, meats and fish. Its laboratory simulated form can be taken orally, topically (rubbed onto the skin) for certain skin health conditions, or it can be given as an injection, typically for people with serious deficiencies that have trouble absorbing the nutrient through ingestion.

Can Vitamin B12 Supplements Be Dangerous?

Vitamin B12 supplementation can be quite hazardous for people who fall into certain health categories. It is important for people to know about these conflicts so they do not exacerbate their condition by unknowingly taking vitamin B12. Some of these conflicting conditions include:

  1. Gout – in some people with a history of gout who taking vitamin B12 for megaloblastic anemia, it has caused gout attacks.
  2. Leber’s disease – vitamin B12 may adversely effect the optic nerve which could lead to blindness in people with this hereditary eye disease.
  3. Cobalt or Cobalamin allergy – some people experience a serious allergic reaction to vitamin B12 shots, namely people with cobalt or cobalamin sensitivities.
  4. Post-stent patients – a combination of B12, B6 and folate can result in narrowing of the arteries which can be very dangerous for people who have had stent surgery or have certain other cardiovascular issues.
  5. Insomniacs – clinical insomniacs should avoid taking vitamin B12 (unless instructed to by their doctor) as it has stimulating effects on the system and some insomniacs have reported extra sleeplessness when taking the supplement.

Does Vitamin B12 Interact With Any Other Medications?

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin B12 interacts with many medications and supplements including: bone loss medications, cancer treatments, colchicine (gout medication), some stomach medications such as H2 blockers and PPIs, blood pressure medications, antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, some other NSAIDS (particularly aspirin), birth control pills, some heart medications, chloramphenicol, metformin, nicotine, nitrous oxide, aminosalicylic acid and stimulants. It may also react with certain other dietary supplements including vitamin C.

Should People Be Reticent About Vitamin B12?

As long as most healthy people do not exceed the recommended amount of Vitamin B12 and take the correct type indicated by their doctor, they should be fine and may even see some health benefits such as increased energy. It is imperative to talk to your doctor (or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians) before starting vitamin a B12 (or any other) supplement to ensure it will be beneficial and not counterproductive for your particular health situation.

That concludes Vitamin B12 under the microscope, thanks for visiting DocChat! We hope you stop by again soon.